FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — All employees of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by late October or agree to submit to weekly testing. The new mandate from School Superindent Scott Brabrand came down the Friday before school is slated to begin.
FCPS, Virginia's largest school district with nearly 25,000 employees, joins several other local school districts in mandating staff vaccines, including D.C., Arlington, Alexandria, Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Loudoun County remains the last holdout in Northern Virginia.
In the announcement on its website, FCPS outlined four reasons they were adopting the protocol.
- To keep our commitment to provide students with five days a week of in-person instruction this year.
- To give employees the peace of mind that comes with knowing their workplace is a safe place.
- To reassure FCPS students and families they are learning in the safest environment possible.
- To lead by example
"Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent severe illness," FCPS says on its website. FCPS continues to promote vaccination for everyone, including our students, as soon as they are eligible ... The sooner our community reaches a high vaccination rate, the sooner we begin to put the pandemic behind us."
The school district previously required that masks be worn inside all FCPS buildings and on school buses, regardless of vaccination status.
On Monday, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers put out a statement expressing their support for an all-staff vaccine requirement at county public schools, with weekly testing as an alternative.
“FCFT members are looking forward to being back with our students soon in our classrooms, buses, and cafeterias," the statement read. "Our members are concerned, however, about what precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of FCPS employees and the students in our care, many of whom are not yet eligible for the vaccine."
The Federation went on to ask that all in-person gatherings, such as social events, outside of work are optional, as well as events like Open House and Back to School night.